DENVER (CBS4)– The Bureau of Land Management will review how it handles the admission of wild horses brought into its Wild Horse and Burro Corrals in Canon City.
“We are reviewing the admission history of these horses and will provide the results of this review and any recommended changes in the near future,” BLM spokesman Steven Hall said.
As wild horse advocates, he questions the department’s management of the 457 horses rounded up in the West Douglas area west of Meeker on the West Slope in August 2021.
“I am very worried about this. I don’t think that reflects BLM well,” said Ginger Kathrens, founder of Colorado Springs-based group The Cloud Foundation. “They didn’t do their due diligence when they brought in the horses.”
A report into the cause of the mass deaths in horses at the Canon City facility indicates that an equine influenza virus is the probable cause. The H3N8 strain is not known to kill so many animals at once. The BLM believes there is a secondary reason the horses have become so ill. Other horses among the more than 2,500 in Canon City fell ill, but did not die, only those gathered in the West Douglas area were killed.
Among the possible reasons is the discovery of two equine herpes viruses in horses, which is common in healthy horses in the wild and in captivity. Other potential causes include other viral or bacterial infections, including those not previously identified. They are also investigating whether a fire last year before the horses were assembled may have led to respiratory damage and whether high winds in the area where the horses were kept this spring led to harmful dust. It remains to also consider the potential for some sort of toxic exposure to vegetation or something else.
“We’re just asking for a little patience as we continue to solidify some of the science in some of these findings,” Hall said.
The first seriously ill horses were part of a group of around 50 horses that had been vaccinated five to ten days before the illness began.
As to whether there was a problem with the vaccine, Hall said: “It’s hard to say and it will again be one of those answers that we may have more definitive information about in a week or so. .”
Influenza vaccines are commonly given to horses. Kathrens wonders why the horses weren’t vaccinated when they were brought in.
“This facility is one of our major BLM facilities. And so they knew exactly what to do, but they didn’t.
The horses were generally healthier since the muster. Hall says the horses were in bad shape to start with.
On the issue of the vaccine, he said: ‘The timing of vaccination is something we look at by looking at how we got to where we are.’
Other horses in the adoption queue have been vaccinated.
“We vaccinated these horses before the West Douglas horses. But that’s one of the questions we’ll be looking at in our review, why did it take so long to vaccinate these horses? »
Kathrens would always like answers.
“I’m not saying these other people aren’t good people. But they are certainly not doing what they used to do. That is to say that the animals were well treated, cared for, taking into account their vaccines.
She thinks the horses would have been better off staying in the wild.
“I think if they didn’t have the facility ready to take care of them, they absolutely should never have been arrested.”